Rob Knight is a pioneer in studying human microbes, the community of tiny single-cell organisms living inside our bodies that have a huge — and largely unexplored — role in our health. “The three pounds of microbes that you carry around with you might be more important than every single gene you carry around in your genome,” he says. Find out why. Topics: Tedtalks, TED, Talks, biology, health, TED2014, 2014
An insect's ability to fly is perhaps one of the greatest feats of evolution. Michael Dickinson looks at how a common housefly takes flight with such delicate wings, thanks to a clever flapping motion and flight muscles that are both powerful and nimble. But the secret ingredient: the incredible fly brain. (Filmed at TEDxCaltech.) Topics: TEDTalks, TED, Talks, biology, insects, science, TEDxCaltech, 2013
Biologist Sara Lewis has spent the past 20 years getting to the bottom of the magic and wonder of fireflies. In this charming talk, she tells us how and why the beetles produce their silent sparks, what happens when two fireflies have sex, and why one group of females is known as the firefly vampire. (It's not pretty.) Find out more astonishing facts about fireflies in Lewis' footnotes, below. Topics: TedTalks, TED, Talks, biology, evolution, insects, TED2014, 2014
In this intriguing talk, biologist Ameenah Gurib-Fakim introduces us to rare plant species from isolated islands and regions of Africa. Meet the shape-shifting benjoin; the baume de l'ile plate, which might offer a new treatment for asthma; and the iconic baobab tree, which could hold the key to the future of food. Plus: monkey apples. Topics: TedTalks, TED, Talks, Planets, biodiversity, biology, nature, TEDGlobal 2014, 2014
Before life existed on Earth, there was just matter, inorganic dead "stuff." How improbable is it that life arose? And -- could it use a different type of chemistry? Using an elegant definition of life (anything that can evolve), chemist Lee Cronin is exploring this question by attempting to create a fully inorganic cell using a "Lego kit" of inorganic molecules -- no carbon -- that can assemble, replicate and compete. Topics: TEDTalks, TEDGlobal 2011, TED, Talks, biology, life, nanoscale, science, 2011
Biologist Mohamed Hijri brings to light a farming crisis no one is talking about: We are running out of phosphorus, an essential element that's a key component of DNA and the basis of cellular communication. All roads of this crisis lead back to how we farm -- with chemical fertilizers chock-full of the element, which plants are not efficient at absorbing. One solution? Perhaps … a microscopic mushroom. (Filmed at TEDxUdeM.) Topics: TEDTalks, TED, Talks, agriculture, biology, food, TEDxUdeM, 2013
How do we search for alien life if it's nothing like the life that we know? At TEDxUIUC Christoph Adami shows how he uses his research into artificial life -- self-replicating computer programs -- to find a signature, a 'biomarker,' that is free of our preconceptions of what life is. Topics: TEDTalks, TED, Talks, biology, evolution, life, science, TEDxUIUC, 2011
We humans set a premium on our own free will and independence ... and yet there's a shadowy influence we might not be considering. As science writer Ed Yong explains in this fascinating, hilarious and disturbing talk, parasites have perfected the art of manipulation to an incredible degree. So are they influencing us? It's more than likely. Topics: TedTalks, TED, Talks, biology, microbiology, science, TED2014, 2014
They're the second largest fish in the world, they're almost extinct, and we know almost nothing about them. At TEDxDublin, Simon Berrow describes the fascinating basking shark ("Great Fish of the Sun" in Irish), and the exceptional -- and wonderfully low-tech -- ways he's learning enough to save them. Topics: TEDTalks, TEDxDublin, TED, Talks, biology, environment, oceans, science, 2010
Throughout humankind's history, we've driven species after species extinct: the passenger pigeon, the Eastern cougar the dodo .... But now, says Stewart Brand, we have the technology (and the biology) to bring back species that humanity wiped out. So -- should we? Which ones? He asks a big question whose answer is closer than you may think. Topics: TEDTalks, TED, Talks, biology, philosophy, technology, TED2013, 2013
One afternoon, Kees Moeliker got a research opportunity few ornithologists would wish for: A flying duck slammed into his glass office building, died, and then … what happened next would change his life. [Note: Contains graphic images and descriptions of sexual behavior in animals.] Topics: TEDTalks, TED, Talks, biology, birds, humor, science, sex, TED2013, 2013
Do our smells make us sexy? Popular science suggests yes — pheromones send chemical signals about sex and attraction from our armpits to potential mates. But, despite what you might have heard, there is no conclusive research confirming that humans have these smell molecules. In this eye-opening talk, zoologist Tristram Wyatt explains the fundamental flaws in current pheromone research, and shares his hope for a future that unlocks the fascinating, potentially life-saving knowledge tied up in... Topics: TedTalks, TED, Talks, animals, biology, smell, TEDxLeuvenSalon, 2013
Our bodies are covered in a sea of microbes -- both the pathogens that make us sick and the "good" microbes, about which we know less, that might be keeping us healthy. At TEDMED, microbiologist Jonathan Eisen shares what we know, including some surprising ways to put those good microbes to work. Topics: TEDTalks, TED, Talks, biology, health, microbiology, science, TEDMED 2012, 2012
In the quest to map the brain, many scientists have attempted the incredibly daunting task of recording the activity of each neuron. Gero Miesenboeck works backward -- manipulating specific neurons to figure out exactly what they do, through a series of stunning experiments that reengineer the way fruit flies percieve light. Topics: TEDTalks, TEDGlobal 2010, TED, Talks, biology, brain, neurology, science, 2010
Where are the baby dinosaurs? In a spellbinding talk from TEDxVancouver paleontologist Jack Horner describes how slicing open fossil skulls revealed a shocking secret about some of our most beloved dinosaurs. Topics: TEDTalks, TEDxVancouver, TED, Talks, biology, paleontology, science, 2010
Just like us, the monarch butterfly sometimes gets sick thanks to a nasty parasite. But biologist Jaap de Roode noticed something interesting about the butterflies he was studying — infected female butterflies would choose to lay their eggs on a specific kind of plant that helped their offspring avoid getting sick. How do they know to choose this plant? Think of it as “the other butterfly effect” — which could teach us to find new medicines for the treatment of human disease. Topics: Tedtalks, TED, Talks, biology, insects, science, TEDYouth 2014, 2014
Did you know you have functioning neurons in your intestines -- about a hundred million of them? Food scientist Heribert Watzke tells us about the "hidden brain" in our gut and the surprising things it makes us feel. Topics: TEDTalks, TED, Talks, biology, food, science, technology, TEDGlobal 2010, 2010
Inspired by biological design and self-organizing systems, artist Heather Barnett co-creates with physarum polycephalum, a eukaryotic microorganism that lives in cool, moist areas. What can people learn from the semi-intelligent slime mold? Watch this talk to find out. Topics: TedTalks, TED, Talks, art, biology, science, TEDSalon Berlin 2014, 2014
Chef Dan Barber squares off with a dilemma facing many chefs today: how to keep fish on the menu. With impeccable research and deadpan humor, he chronicles his pursuit of a sustainable fish he could love, and the foodie's honeymoon he's enjoyed since discovering an outrageously delicious fish raised using a revolutionary farming method in Spain. Topics: TEDTalks, TED, Talks, agriculture, biology, environment, food, health, TED2010, 2010
What is killing the Tasmanian devil? A virulent cancer is infecting them by the thousands -- and unlike most cancers, it's contagious. Researcher Elizabeth Murchison tells us how she's fighting to save the Taz, and what she's learning about all cancers from this unusual strain. Contains disturbing images of facial cancer. Topics: TEDTalks, TEDGlobal 2011, TED, Talks, animals, biology, cancer, science, 2011
High school science teacher Tyler DeWitt was ecstatic about a lesson plan on bacteria (how cool!) -- and devastated when his students hated it. The problem was the textbook: it was impossible to understand. He delivers a rousing call for science teachers to ditch the jargon and extreme precision, and instead make science sing through stories and demonstrations. (Filmed at TEDxBeaconStreet.) Topics: TEDTalks, TED, Talks, biology, children, education, science, TEDxBeaconStreet, 2012
In this highly personal talk from TEDMED, magician and stuntman David Blaine describes what it took to hold his breath underwater for 17 minutes -- a world record (only two minutes shorter than this entire talk!) -- and what his often death-defying work means to him. Warning: do NOT try this at home. Topics: TEDTalks, TEDMED 2009, TED, Talks, biology, magic, medicine, performance, 2009
Nature’s beauty can be easily missed -- but not through Louie Schwartzberg’s lens. His stunning time-lapse photography, accompanied by powerful words from Benedictine monk Brother David Steindl-Rast, serves as a meditation on being grateful for every day. Topics: TedTalks, TED, Talks, biodiversity, biology, compassion, culture, photography, TEDxSF, 2011
Marlene Zuk delightedly, determinedly studies insects. In this enlightening, funny talk, she shares just some of the ways that they are truly astonishing — not least for the creative ways they have sex. Topics: Tedtalks, TED, Talks, biology, insects, science, sex, TEDWomen 2015, 2015
It's relatively easy to imagine a new medicine, a better cure for some disease. The hard part, though, is testing it, and that can delay promising new cures for years. In this well-explained talk, Geraldine Hamilton shows how her lab creates organs and body parts on a chip, simple structures with all the pieces essential to testing new medications -- even custom cures for one specific person. (Filmed at TEDxBoston) Topics: TEDTalks, TED, Talks, biology, illness, medical research, TEDxBoston 2013, 2013
How does a robin know to fly south? The answer might be weirder than you think: Quantum physics may be involved. Jim Al-Khalili rounds up the extremely new, extremely strange world of quantum biology, where something Einstein once called “spooky action at a distance” helps birds navigate, and quantum effects might explain the origin of life itself. Topics: Tedtalks, TED, Talks, biology, birds, consciousness, life, physics, TEDGlobalLondon, 2015
Arthritis and injury grind down millions of joints, but few get the best remedy -- real biological tissue. Kevin Stone shows a treatment that could sidestep the high costs and donor shortfall of human-to-human transplants with a novel use of animal tissue. Topics: TEDTalks, TED, Talks, biology, design, future, medicine, technology, TED2010, 2010
3D animation can bring scientific hypotheses to life. Molecular biologist (and TED Fellow) Janet Iwasa introduces a new open-source animation software designed just for scientists. Topics: TedTalks, TED, Talks, TED Fellows, biology, science, technology, TED2014, 2014
Liver cancer is one of the most difficult cancers to detect, but synthetic biologist Tal Danino had a left-field thought: What if we could create a probiotic, edible bacteria that was "programmed" to find liver tumors? His insight exploits something we're just beginning to understand about bacteria: their power of quorum sensing, or doing something together once they reach critical mass. Danino, a TED Fellow, explains how quorum sensing works — and how clever bacteria working... Topics: Tedtalks, TED, Talks, bacteria, biology, cancer, health, TED2015, 2015
We’re not done with anatomy. We know a tremendous amount about genomics, proteomics and cell biology, but as Diane Kelly makes clear at TEDMED, there are basic facts about the human body we’re still learning. Case in point: How does the mammalian erection work? Topics: TEDTalks, TED, Talks, biology, science, sex, TEDMED 2012, 2012
Think you know a thing or two about sex? Think again. In this fascinating talk, biologist Carin Bondar lays out the surprising science behind how animals get it on. favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite ( 1 reviews ) Topics: TedTalks, TED, Talks, animals, biology, sex, TEDGlobal 2013, 2013
Tissue engineer and TED Fellow Nina Tandon is growing artificial hearts and bones. To do that, she needs new ways of caring for artificially grown cells -- techniques she's developed by the simple but powerful method of copying their natural environments. Topics: TEDTalks, TED2011, TED, Talks, biology, biomimicry, biotech, science, 2011
Drugs alone can't stop disease in sub-Saharan Africa: We need diagnostic tools to match. TED Senior Fellow Frederick Balagadde shows how we can multiply the power and availability of an unwieldy, expensive diagnostic lab -- by miniaturizing it to the size of a chip. Topics: TEDTalks, TED, Talks, biology, engineering, invention, microbiology, TED2010, 2010
Although the tapir is one of the world's largest land mammals, the lives of these solitary, nocturnal creatures have remained a mystery. Known as "the living fossil," the very same tapir that roams the forests and grasslands of South America today arrived on the evolutionary scene more than 5 million years ago. But threats from poachers, deforestation and pollution, especially in quickly industrializing Brazil, threaten this longevity. In this insightful talk, conservation biologist,... Topics: Tedtalks, TED, Talks, Brazil, TED Fellows, animals, biodiversity, biology, environment, TED Fellows...
Craig Venter and team make a historic announcement: they've created the first fully functioning, reproducing cell controlled by synthetic DNA. He explains how they did it and why the achievement marks the beginning of a new era for science. Topics: TEDTalks, TED in the Field, TED, Talks, DNA, biology, business, genetics, life, science,...
In this brief talk from TED U 2009, Jonathan Drori encourages us to save biodiversity -- one seed at a time. Reminding us that plants support human life, he shares the vision of the Millennium Seed Bank, which has stored over 3 billion seeds to date from dwindling yet essential plant species. Topics: TEDTalks, TED2009, TED, Talks, biodiversity, biology, biosphere, environment, future, life,...
Biologist Juliana Machado Ferreira, a TED Senior Fellow, talks about her work helping to save birds and other animals stolen from the wild in Brazil. Once these animals are seized from smugglers, she asks, then what? Topics: TEDTalks, TED, Talks, activism, biodiversity, biology, birds, global issues, science, TED2010, 2010
Stephen Wolfram, creator of Mathematica, talks about his quest to make all knowledge computational -- able to be searched, processed and manipulated. His new search engine, Wolfram Alpha, has no lesser goal than to model and explain the physics underlying the universe. Topics: TEDTalks, TED, Talks, biology, complexity, computers, math, physics, science, simplicity, TED2010,...
Neuroscientist and inventor Christopher deCharms demonstrates a new way to use fMRI to show brain activity -- thoughts, emotions, pain -- while it is happening. In other words, you can actually see how you feel. Topics: TEDTalks, TED, Talks, biology, brain, business, demo, medicine, science, short talk, technology,...
Architecture student Magnus Larsson details his bold plan to transform the harsh Sahara desert using bacteria and a surprising construction material: the sand itself. Topics: TEDTalks, TED, Talks, Africa, architecture, bacteria, biology, design, sustainability, water,...
Once it's created, plastic (almost) never dies. While in 12th grade Miranda Wang and Jeanny Yao went in search of a new bacteria to biodegrade plastic -- specifically by breaking down phthalates, a harmful plasticizer. They found an answer surprisingly close to home. Topics: TEDTalks, TED, Talks, bacteria, biology, plastic, pollution, science, youth, TED2013, 2013
Anthony Atala's state-of-the-art lab grows human organs -- from muscles to blood vessels to bladders, and more. At TEDMED, he shows footage of his bio-engineers working with some of its sci-fi gizmos, including an oven-like bioreactor (preheat to 98.6 F) and a machine that "prints" human tissue. Topics: TEDTalks, TEDMED 2009, TED, Talks, biology, health, medicine, science, technology, 2009
Filmmaker Penelope Jagessar Chaffer was curious about the chemicals she was exposed to while pregnant: Could they affect her unborn child? So she asked scientist Tyrone Hayes to brief her on one he studied closely: atrazine, a herbicide used on corn. (Hayes, an expert on amphibians, is a critic of atrazine, which displays a disturbing effect on frog development.) Onstage together at TEDWomen, Hayes and Chaffer tell their story. Topics: TEDTalks, TEDWomen, TED, Talks, animals, biology, children, film, plastic, science, sex, 2010
Use dancers instead of powerpoint. That's science writer John Bohannon's "modest proposal." In this spellbinding choreographed talk from TEDxBrussels he makes his case by example, aided by dancers from Black Label Movement. Topics: TEDTalks, TEDxBrussels, TED, Talks, TEDxFeatured, biology, dance, entertainment, physics,...
Fiorenzo Omenetto shares 20+ astonishing new uses for silk, one of nature's most elegant materials -- in transmitting light, improving sustainability, adding strength and making medical leaps and bounds. On stage, he shows a few intriguing items made of the versatile stuff. Topics: TEDTalks, TED2011, TED, Talks, biology, biomimicry, design, green, invention, life, medicine,...
In Western society, bats are often characterized as creepy, even evil. Zoologist Emma Teeling encourages us to rethink our attitude toward bats, whose unique and fascinating biology gives us insight into our own genetic makeup. (Filmed at TEDxDublin.) Topics: TEDTalks, TED, Talks, advertising, animals, biology, evolution, genetics, science, TEDxDublin, 2012
Strange landscapes, scorching heat and (sometimes) mad crocodiles await scientists seeking clues to evolution's genius. Paleontologist Paul Sereno talks about his surprising encounters with prehistory -- and a new way to help students join the adventure. Topics: TEDTalks, TED, Talks, Africa, animals, biology, children, education, evolution, exploration,...
What can we learn from people with the genetics to get sick — who don’t? With most inherited diseases, only some family members will develop the disease, while others who carry the same genetic risks dodge it. Stephen Friend suggests we start studying those family members who stay healthy. Hear about the Resilience Project, a massive effort to collect genetic materials that may help decode inherited disorders. Topics: TedTalks, TED, Talks, biology, data, disease, genetics, health, privacy, TED2014, 2014
One hundred sixty years after the invention of the needle and syringe, we’re still using them to deliver vaccines; it’s time to evolve. Biomedical engineer Mark Kendall demos the Nanopatch, a one-centimeter-by-one-centimeter square vaccine that can be applied painlessly to the skin. He shows how this tiny piece of silicon can overcome four major shortcomings of the modern needle and syringe, at a fraction of the cost. Topics: TEDTalks, TED, Talks, biology, health, medicine, science, technology, TEDGlobal 2013, 2013
Each of our bodies is utterly unique, which is a lovely thought until it comes to treating an illness -- when every body reacts differently, often unpredictably, to standard treatment. Tissue engineer Nina Tandon talks about a possible solution: Using pluripotent stem cells to make personalized models of organs on which to test new drugs and treatments, and storing them on computer chips. (Call it extremely personalized medicine.) Topics: TEDTalks, TED, Talks, biology, engineering, health care, medical research, medicine, science,...